Fintech Savings App, Acorns, Plans to Introduce Crypto Assets to Its 4 Million Subscribers

Fintech Savings App, Acorns, Plans to Introduce Crypto Assets to Its 4 Million Subscribers

In an interview with CNBC, Noah Kerner, CEO of fintech firm, Acorns said the startup plans to introduce cryptocurrencies and other digital assets on its platform. This will give users the ability to invest and learn more about cryptocurrencies. The move represents a switch from the conservative nature Acorns has adopted in previous years.

Additionally, the savings app has appointed former Amazon employee David Hijirida as president to lead the company’s day-to-day operations. Hijirida started his journey in traditional finance companies before spending 12 years in management roles at Amazon, including its global payments division. He also held the CEO position at digital bank, Simple Finance from 2018 before unexpectedly shutting down operations in May this year.

According to Kerner, introducing Bitcoin and other digital currencies will be launched on the app in the coming weeks. This will allow users to diversify their portfolios and learn how to manage their crypto assets, he added during the interview.

“We are going to let people customize their portfolios and add individual equities and crypto into a slice of their diversified portfolios, much the way a money manager would advise you to behave.”

The fintech startup is preparing for its expected public listing later in the year by appointing seasoned managers such as David, Kerner explained. Following a merger with Pioneer Merger Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Arcons was valued at $2.2 billion, preparing for its public sale launch in May. David is the second high-ranking manager appointed in the last two months after it named Twitter executive Rich Sullivan its new chief financial officer.

“David obviously has a great depth and breadth of financial services and technology experience.”

“He has a great combination of fintech, payments, operations, and also product development experience.”

The growth of Arcons is nothing short of impressive, having reached over 4 million paying subscribers with a plan to reach over 10 million subscribers in the next four years.

Unlike fintech startups such as Robinhood, which went public last year, Arcons offers savings and long-term investment options rather than a short-term trading service that offers gamified stock and crypto trading.

“Everything Acorns does about long-term saving and investing for the everyday consumer.”

“It’s why our subscription model is so important because it decouples the business from behaviors that aren’t necessarily customer-aligned, like driving trading or driving spending or driving borrowing.”

The platform is yet to release a launch date for its planned crypto assets inclusion, Kerner concluded.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Crypto’s Self-Policing Unveils Insider Trading at $1.5 Bln Valued NFT Marketplace, OpenSea

Crypto’s Self-Policing Unveils Insider Trading at $1.5 Bln Valued NFT Marketplace, OpenSea

Popular non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace OpenSea addressed the reports of its employee being involved in insider trading.

It was only this week that it “learned that one of our employees purchased items that they knew were set to display on our front page before they appeared there publicly,” said Devin Finzer, CEO and co-founder of OpenSea, in his official statement.

Calling it “incredibly disappointing,” Finzer said they are conducting a third-party review of this incident to decide on the additional steps they need to take.

For now, they have implemented some policies, including that team members are prohibited from using confidential information to purchase or sell any NFTs, and they are not to buy or sell from collections or creators featured or being promoted by OpenSea.

“We’re committed to doing the right thing for our users and earning back the trust of the community we serve.”

Self-Regulation Is The Way

On Tuesday, Twitter user @ZuwuTV accused OpenSea’s head of product Nate Chastain of buying an NFT just before the marketplace, featuring it on the front page of its website only to sell it after the price had been pumped following the buzz around the main page listing.

According to 8btc, the sales tied to Chastain revealed that his front-running NFT sales only profited him just under 19 Ether, worth about $68,500, as of writing.

Jeff Dorman, CFA, CIO Arca applauded @ZuwuTV’s efforts noting that it is great to see the crypto community is self-policing.

“Working with regulators to come up with a new set of rules that include community self-regulation will lead to a better, fairer, & safer financial ecosystem.”

Explosive Growth

In July, OpenSea got a valuation of $1.5 billion after raising $100 million in a funding round led by a16z with participation from investors including Ashton Kutcher and Michael Ovitz.

For the past few months, OpenSea has been the biggest gas guzzler on the Ethereum network, accounting for more than 14% of all the Ether burned so far.

In August, OpenSea hit a new all-time high in monthly volume of $3.24 billion, up from $326 million in the previous month, according to Dune Analytics. Daily volume, however, is now going down, much like in the overall NFT scene.

On August 29, on Ethereum, OpenSea daily volume hit a $235.2 mln peak and since then has been on a continuous decline to drop to $52.6 mln on Sept. 11. This week, daily volumes are seeing a slight uptick to $81 mln.

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Author: AnTy

$1.5 Trillion Asset Manager Franklin Templeton Eyes Crypto With Latest Filing

$1.5 Trillion Asset Manager Franklin Templeton Eyes Crypto With Latest Filing

The crypto space is seeing a paradigm shift, with more legacy-backed financial institutions gradually transitioning into the blockchain industry. The latest is American multinational holding company Franklin Resources Inc.

$20 Million Total Value For Pooled Venture Fund

According to a Wednesday filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the investment firm plans to raise $20 million for its Venture Capital Fund dubbed the Franklin Templeton Blockchain Fund I, L.P.

The asset manager admitted in the filing that it had raised $10 million or 50% of the targeted value. The venture is expected to channel the raised funds to blockchain startups and crypto-focused businesses in the coming months.

However, the expected value is minimal given the funds crypto startups gulp in fundraising rounds. Franklin Templeton may likely be testing the SEC’s resolve with the venture fund and could go all out if the results are favorable.

Founded in New York City in 1947, Franklin Resources is a global investment manager with over 12,000 employees spread across 34 countries. It serves clients in 160 countries and provides mutual fund investment services. It is better known as Franklin Templeton, with over $1.5 trillion worth of assets under management (AUM).

Franklin Templeton Diving Deeper Into Crypto

Franklin Templeton has a long history with the cryptocurrency industry.

In 2019, Franklin Templeton joined forces with cloud-based institutional wallet provider Curv to bolster the security of digital shares in its money market fund. This saw the investment firm use Curv’s patented multiparty computation (MPC) to secure its blockchain and connect with the Stellar network.

Franklin Templeton was also a key contributor in the $15 million series A funding round of digital asset data company, Amberdata.

The California-based company has also made overtures in establishing a “Tokenized Asset Development Department” following a job posting advertising for a cryptocurrency research analyst last month.

In the LinkedIn post, Franklin Templeton specified that the successful candidate would research the most liquid and tradable crypto-assets like Bitcoin, Ether, and others. Also, the research analyst will conduct a market overview on decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and build out investment strategies for the firm’s digital products.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

AMC Entertainment to Accept Bitcoin, Ether, and other Cryptocurrencies as Payment

AMC Entertainment to Accept Bitcoin, Ether, and other Cryptocurrencies as Payment

AMC Entertainment chief executive Adam Aron has said that AMC Theaters will accept Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH), for online ticket and concession payments.

“Cryptocurrency enthusiasts: you likely know @AMCTheatres has announced we will accept Bitcoin for online ticket and concession payments by year-end 2021. I can confirm today that when we do so, we also expect that we similarly will accept Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash,” tweeted Aron on Wednesday.

Earlier last month, during the company’s earnings, call for the period ended June 30, 2021, the CEO had revealed that they plan to accept Bitcoin as a payment for movie tickets and concessions by this year-end.

At the time, Aron also shared that over the past six months, he has been learning about blockchain and cryptocurrency. Additionally, he said they were “intrigued” by potentially lucrative business opportunities for the company if they “intelligently pursue further serious involvement with cryptocurrency.”

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Author: AnTy

ECB President Says, Cryptocurrencies Are Highly Speculative Assets That Claim Their Fame As Currency

ECB President Says, Cryptocurrencies Are Highly Speculative Assets That Claim Their Fame As Currency

Christine Lagarde says, “we have to stand ready” for CBDC, which will be available side by side with paper currencies while calling for stablecoins to be regulated.

“Cryptos are not currencies. Full stop,” said Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank (ECB).

In an interview with Bloomberg this week, when asked if she thinks cryptocurrencies are a plus for the global economy or if it’s too early to tell, Lagarde blasted cryptos, saying while they possibly can be, cryptocurrencies are not currencies.

“Cryptos are highly speculative assets that claim their fame as currency.”

She then talked about the need to distinguish between cryptos that are highly speculative, even suspicious occasionally, and have high intensity in terms of energy consumption.

Lagarde also talked about stablecoins during the interview, which she said are “beginning to proliferate.” The total market cap of stablecoins has now surpassed $124 billion, with USDT, USDC, and BUSD leading the market with their respective market share at 58.5%, 23.65%, and 10.27%. Stablecoins, she said,

“need to be regulated where there has to be an oversight that corresponds to the business that they are actually conducting irrespective of how they name themselves.”

Lagarde also noted that some big techs are also trying to promote stablecoins and push along the way, which she said are “a different animal.”

Tech giant Facebook first announced its stablecoin Diem in 2019 with a plan to be backed by a wide mix of fiat currencies and government debt and instantly ran into regulatory scrutiny. Last month, David Marcus said they seek necessary regulatory clearances and have already secured approvals for its digital wallet Novi in nearly every state in the US.

Central banks are also “prompted” by the demand of customers to produce digital fiat money, “something that will make the central bank and central bank currencies fit for the century we’re in,” she said.

This is why every central bank, including the ECB and the Federal Reserve, is looking into central bank digital currency (CBDC) so that instead of having banknotes and cash, “we can have exactly the same thing. But in a digital form.”

“So all of us are working on this and certainly always keen to push the CBDC issue on our agenda because I believe that we have to stand ready for that.”

When launched, they will be available side by side with paper currencies,

“because we want customers to have their preference. If they still want to hold those banknotes and cash, fine. And it should continue to be available in the long run.”

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Author: AnTy

Skybridge Capital Announces Intentions For Algorand (ALGO) Crypto ETF

Skybridge Capital Announces Intentions For Algorand (ALGO) Crypto ETF

Continuing his bullish stance on the future of blockchain-based assets popularly called cryptocurrencies, former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci has asserted that the burgeoning industry is here to stay.

He also laid out his asset management firm’s intentions in a CNBC-covered interview.

SkyBridge Has $700 Million In Crypto Holdings

Popular crypto supporter Anthony Scaramucci is stirring the crypto waters again as he admitted that cryptocurrencies are becoming too big to be ignored.

In a CNBC special, Scaramucci announced that his alternative asset management firm SkyBridge Capital has so far racked up $700 million worth of virtual assets. The crypto bull also noted that the New York-based investment firm plans to expand its crypto offerings for interested clients.

According to the Skybridge founder, the company will launch a crypto exchange-traded fund (ETF) focused on the popular ‘Ethereum killer,’ the Algorand (ALGO) blockchain. Scaramucci noted that $100 million has already been generated for the new ETF venture.

Comparing crypto to the rise of taxi-hailing service Uber, Scaramucci said that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) might be fighting a losing battle. According to him, Uber triumphed due to the massive public backing it enjoyed.

“Before long, there will be 200 million crypto users in the United States.”

However, the SEC does not share this enthusiasm, and agency Chief Gary Gensler has repeatedly called out the nascent industry in the past. In a featured release, the former MIT instructor of blockchain technology noted that the crypto space was “rife with fraud and abuse,” asserting that regulating the space is the only means to ensure basic consumer protection.

SALT Conference Stirred Mixed Feelings

SkyBridge Capital has been on the front foot of crypto adoption, with the asset management firm organizing a series of blockchain-based conferences. One of such is Skybridge Alternative Conference or SALT. Hosted in New York early on Tuesday, hedge fund big wigs like Ray Dalio of Bridgewater Associates were in attendance.

Dalio noted the importance of “alternatives to cash,” pointing out that inflation was rapidly reducing purchasing power. According to him, these tools could help shore up the decline of cash and should be considered.

However, the billionaire investor noted that regulatory agencies might not be enthused about the emergence of these alternatives. Dalio said that government agencies would undermine the mass adoption of fiat alternatives like Bitcoin and may outrightly ban their use, thereby defragmenting the growing industry.

Meanwhile, Skybridge Capital is not deterred by the gloomy cloud hanging over the crypto industry and recently launched a non-fungible token (NFT) platform.

Noted in a Sept.13 release, Skybridge said the NFT platform would be called Flatter. The platform would enable users to buy sought-after collectibles from the emerging marketplace.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

China’s Lehman Moment? Crypto Market Takes Note of Real Estate Giant Evergrande’s Debt Crisis

While the crypto market is contemplating the effect of Evergrande’s possible fallout, Tether has clarified that it is “doesn’t hold and never held,” commercial paper issued by Evergrande.

Real-estate giant Evergrande is looking more and more like the Lehman Brothers moment of China as investors brace for its collapse. According to experts, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will have to save the company, whose collapse would send shockwaves across the global economy.

Capital Economics estimated that the company has around 1.3 trillion yuan ($200 billion) in pre-sale liabilities as of the end of June.

Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, dissolving $600 bln in US assets leading to the worst market crash since the great depression.

This week, anxious investors protested at the Shenzhen headquarters of the company as Evergrande said it is facing “unprecedented difficulties” but denied rumors that it is about to go under.

But on Tuesday, in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange, Evergrande said it had hired financial advisers to explore “all feasible solutions” and warned that there was no guarantee it would meet its financial obligations.

Evergrande blamed “ongoing negative media reports” for damaging sales in the pivotal September period.

“Evergrande’s collapse would be the biggest test that China’s financial system has faced in years,” said Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at Capital economics.

This, of course, poses a serious problem for CCP as Evergrande is a longstanding symbol of the country’s economically productive urbanization, and its business model is representative of “China’s highly debt-dependent growth model,” said Jean-François Dufour, head of French, China-focused consulting firm DCA Chine-Analyse.

Founded in 1996, the company pursued a very aggressive growth strategy and raised $9 billion in its IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2009. It now controls 778 real estate projects in 223 Chinese cities and directly employs nearly 200,000 people while claiming to have indirectly created more than three million jobs.

Reportedly, the company had only $13 billion to its name as of late June, while it is due to pay $15 billion to creditors by the end of 2021.

At the same time, banks are reluctant to lend them money, on top of which, “It’s become more complicated because of the restrictive monetary policy the government is currently pursuing,” Frédéric Rollin, an investment strategy adviser at Pictet Asset Management, told French 24.

According to Rollin, in 2020, compared to the US companys’ debt representing 85% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and 115% in the eurozone, Chinese companies’ debt represented 160% of its GDP.

With Evergrande bound to take at least one bank down with it if it goes bankrupt, China needs to prevent Evergrande from going under. And these shockwaves are to be expected to be felt beyond China because it counts big international companies like BlackRock, Allianz, and Ashmore among its investors.

This week, even the crypto community took notice of this, with Adam Cochran of Cinneamhain Ventures arguing on Twitter that “Currently both Tether and Circle hold commercial paper, and while I think it unlikely that either would have large swaths of Evergrande bonds, the whole market will reel a bit.”

Tether meanwhile clarified that it doesn’t hold any commercial paper issued by Evergrande; rather, its vast majority of the commercial paper is in A-2 and above rated issuers.

“Doesn’t hold and never held,” tweeted Paolo Ardoino, CTO of Tether and Bitfinex.

Meanwhile, Cochran is expecting the shockwaves to be felt in crypto as well because “while we can hope that crypto one day becomes a flight from the tradfi markets, right now its sufficiently intertwined to its movements.”

“This is a very big deal indeed,” said Matthew Graham, CEO of crypto VC firm Sino Global Capital, adding, but “for real estate and tradfi.”

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Author: AnTy

Southeast Asian Country, Laos, Authorizes Trading and Mining of Cryptocurrency

Southeast Asian Country, Laos, Authorizes Trading and Mining of Cryptocurrency

In a policy shift, Laos has approved the mining and trading of cryptocurrencies in the Southeast Asian country.

Analysts see this move as a logical step for an inland Communist-controlled country that has surplus hydropower.

The debt-laden country has its domestic tourism industry severely impacted by the pandemic, and while it has a strong power generation capacity, domestic demand is relatively small and weakened.

This shift to crypto comes after last month, the central bank of Laos issued a notice warning the public about the use of crypto assets.

This week, the Prime Minister’s Office said six companies, including banks and the construction groups, were authorized to start mining and trading crypto assets while relevant ministries draft regulations governing their use.

A host of ministries led by the Ministry of Technology and Communications in coordination with the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Energy and Mines, Ministry of Planning and Investment, and the Ministry of Public Security will work with the Bank of Laos (BOL) and the national utility the Lao Electric Power Company to regulate the industry, reported the Laotian Times.

The research findings and consultation between ministries and relevant organizations will be discussed at a meeting later this month.

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Author: AnTy

Cohen Not Going to Miss “Incredibly Transformational” Crypto While Dalio Finds BTC as A Cash Alternative

Steven Cohen Isn’t Going to Miss “Incredibly Transformational” Crypto While Ray Dalio Finds Bitcoin as an Alternative to Cash

While Point72 founder’s “cryptomaniac” helped him understand crypto, Bridgewater Associates founder continues to reiterate that Bitcoin “could still be controlled” and that it “could be tulips in Holland.”

Ray Dalio, the founder of the world’s largest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, reiterated that he owns some Bitcoin but expressed concern that there’s a danger of governments destroying the cryptocurrency market.

On CNBC during the SALT conference in New York, Dalio said,

“I think at the end of the day if it’s really successful … they will try to kill it. And I think they will kill it because they have ways of killing it.”

His comments came as US regulators are looking to increase oversight on the $2 trillion cryptocurrency market. Just this week, SEC Chair Gary Gensler said that the top securities regulator is working overtime and crafting rules to bolster regulation of crypto assets.

It, however, wasn’t the first time that Dalio raised concerns about political government action against Bitcoin. Previously he said that the government could ban the cryptocurrency as they would want to clamp down on alternative currencies that could challenge the dominance of the US dollar.

He further said that while El Salvador has become the world’s first nation to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender, India and China are “getting rid of it” while the US is talking about how to regulate it, so overall, “it could still be controlled,” Dalio said.

“It Could Be Tulips In Holland”

According to Dalio, cryptocurrencies represent diversification which “is a good thing,” noting portfolios need to be spread across more asset classes.

Dalio yet again called cash trash and warned that investors shouldn’t become too reliant on it. And he thinks Bitcoin is a good alternative to cash.

“I think it’s worth considering all the alternatives to cash and all the alternatives to the other financial assets. Bitcoin is a possibility. I have a certain amount of money in bitcoin.”

“It’s an amazing accomplishment to have brought it from where that programming occurred to where it is through the test of time.”

However, he also said that the leading cryptocurrency lacks intrinsic value or fundamental and objective worth. Then he likened it to the tulip bubble saying, in a historical perspective, there are many things that didn’t have any intrinsic value but had perceived value and went hot and cold.

“You just have to know what it is. It could be tulips in Holland.”

According to CNBC, Dalio owns a smaller percentage of bitcoin compared to gold holdings in his portfolio.

Not Going To Miss This

SALT conference host Anthony Scaramucci’s alternative investment firm, SkyBridge’s co-chief investment officer, Ray Nolte, meanwhile said at the event that they have a 12% investment in bitcoin.

Earlier this week at the conference, billionaire investor Steven Cohen also said that he hopes to not miss out on opportunities presented by digital currencies.

Cohen, the founder of Point72 Asset Management, shared that he was a bit of a skeptic when it came to cryptos until recently when his son, a “cryptomaniac,” helped change his mind.

“Once I decided there were opportunities, and I thought this could be a space like the internet — it could be incredibly transformational — I wasn’t going to miss this.”

Cohen, who has a net worth of $11.1 billion, is venturing deeper into the crypto world in both personal capacity and at his firm. He is also interested in the metaverse where “your mind can run wild.”

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Author: AnTy

Coinbase is Coming for the Sizable and Lucrative Futures and Derivatives Market in the US

Coinbase is Coming for the Sizable and Lucrative Futures and Derivatives Market in the US

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is now venturing into cryptocurrency derivatives.

The biggest crypto trading platform in the US has filed an application with the National Futures Association on Wednesday to register as a futures commission merchant.

According to the filings, the company is registering as Coinbase Financial Markets Inc.

Currently, Coinbase only offers spot buying and selling, but it is the derivatives market that has a much bigger size. For instance, In the past 24 hours, Binance recorded more than $17 billion in Bitcoin futures trading volume, dwarfing the volume handled by its spot exchange by a factor of 3.

Most of the exchanges, Binance, OKEx, FTX, and others, offer derivatives products but not to US-based customers due to regulatory uncertainty.

CME is the largest regulated crypto derivatives platform in the US which listed Bitcoin futures in December 2017; soon after, Cboe was the first to launch crypto futures, and earlier this year started offering Ether futures as well.

FTX.US has also acquired the CFTC-regulated LedgerX to offer trading in futures, options, and swaps on Bitcoin and Ether to capture the “huge untapped opportunity.”

In order to offer derivatives products in the US market, the business must register with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the federal regulators of all derivatives products. Before that, they must be the members of NFA first, the organization which handles the registration process on the regulatory agency’s behalf.

With this step, Coinbase also wants to tap into the much lucrative and bigger derivatives market. Ever since its direct listing on Nasdaq in April, Coinbase has been expanding its business. The exchange has been aggressively expanding the tradable assets on its platforms, having listed Dogecoin (DOGE) and Axie Infinity (AXS), among many other altcoins and DeFi coins that have gained immense traction in the community.

Coinbase has also set aside capital to fund its marketing efforts, planning to launch a lending product, and is already offering staking services for Proof-of-Stake (PoS) networks.

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Author: AnTy